Monday, September 17, 2012

“Who Am I?”

Mark 8:27-30

Who is Jesus Christ? Do you really know?

Down through the last several thousand of years the church has used ‘creeds’ to define the great truth revealed to us by God through Jesus Christ.

The purpose of a creed is to act as a yardstick of correct belief, or orthodoxy. The creeds of Christianity have been drawn up at times of conflict about doctrine: acceptance or rejection of a creed served to distinguish believers and deniers of a particular doctrine or set of doctrines. For that reason a creed was called in Greek a σύμβολον (Eng. sumbolon), a word that meant half of a broken object which, when placed together with the other half, verified the bearer's identity. The Greek word passed through Latin "symbolum" into English "symbol", which only later took on the meaning of an outward sign of something.

Read with me the Nicene Creed that has been the standard of the Christian faith for thousands of years.

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

This creeds says a great deal about who God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit was and is and will be in the future. Of all that it describes from the Bible the most important part of the creed may very well be the word “Amen” and the period that follows.

I want to show you why as we look at the following passage where Christ asks all of us an important question…

27. Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
Mark 8:27-30

Let’s play a game called: “Who Am I.” The first person to guess the identity of this person will win a gold coin with a chocolate middle. If you are reading this right now you are disqualified from playing the game. There will be other chances so if you want to participate stop reading now and finish reading this message after the service.

Who Am I Game…#1
I was a tax collector
I cheated people out of their money
I was very, very small
I might be found up a tree

That’s right…. Zacchaeus from the Bible. Very good!

Let’s play again…

Who Am I Game…#2
My brother and I were called the Sons of Thunder.
I was one the closest to Jesus Christ.
I wrote the last Gospel.

That right… John the Apostle. Very good!

Who Am I Game…#3
I claimed to be equal to God even though I was a human being.
I insisted that I was the only one who could save others from hell.
I claimed to be perfect every way.
I claimed to have created everything that exists.

That’s right… Jesus Christ! Very good!

How do we know people? We know them by their actions and reputations. Sometimes these are shocking and scandalous or they may be praise worthy…but they define who are in the eyes of the world. Jesus Christ is hailed as many things today but to know who He really is we need to remember what the one act he accomplished that still has everyone talking today. Do you know what it was? That’s right…He died upon the cross and God raised Him on third day.

If we are really going to know people we must understand the motive behind their actions. So let me ask you this question: “Why did Jesus die on the cross?”

Most people will give me the Sunday School answer which is, for our sins. This is true but does not really answer the question about His motives. The people who executed Jesus Christ will tell you He was crucified because He claimed to be equal to God. Jesus Christ told His disciples that He was going to die on the cross as a perfect sacrifice for all of humanity so the debt we owed God could be transferred to Him. This would give Him the right to forgive the sins of any who would put their faith in Him…that He was God in the flesh.

If He was not God in the flesh then He could not be a sacrifice for our sins, or have the authority to forgive sins. If He was not God in the flesh He was then mentally unstable because this is what He repeatedly claimed in front of many witness. If He was mentally ill then we should not follow His teachings.

Believe it or not, many who say they believe in Jesus Christ do not believe in these claims of Christ or in His purpose when He died upon the cross. Many will agree with what He did but not why He did it and so change our understanding of “Who He Is.”

As the disciples traveled with Jesus Christ, learned at His feet and watched His amazing life…they came to their own united conviction about who He was. Most others who only took a casual interest in Jesus Christ had other ideas about Who He Was/Is.

28. They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
Mark 8:27-30

The one great problem that Jesus Christ creates for all of us is that we know that He is like no other, but we are afraid of going as far as saying that He was God in the flesh.

Let’s play our “Who Am I” game again. I identify this religious group.

We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins.
We believe that Jesus Christ was created by Father God as were all angels and humans.
We believe that Jesus was a spirit child of Father God.

Tough…I know. The religion that believes this is the Mormon religion.

Because we have a Mormon running for the president of the United States there is desperate attempt to shore up the belief in the eyes of the media that they are Christians like everyone else. The truth is that they cannot agree with the Nicene Creed we shared together at the start of this service. They would consider it blasphemous to say:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.

Now let’s play our game one more time: what religion is this…

We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins.
We believe that it is probable that Jesus Christ sinned when He was on this earth.
We doubt that there is a Hell, Satan, or Holy Spirit.

That’s right…almost half of everyone in America who describes themselves as a Christian! Not so good...  (

This is why the “Amen” and the period at the end of the Nicene Creed are so important. They tell us that you can not add contradictory statements to the creed and break the meaning of the creed by the additions. We have basically altered the meaning of the constintution of the United States in this way but add on laws and interpretations. So too we have altered the great truth and meaning of Christ’s death upon the cross by going beyond the “Amen” and the period.

One last question…

29. “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”
30. Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Mark 8:27-30

Peter believed that Jesus was the Christ…what irony. Most of us don’t realize that “Christ” is not the surname of Jesus. His father was not Joseph Christ, the husband of Mary Christ. No…Christ is a title.

Christ (ancient Greek: Χριστός, Khristós, meaning 'anointed') is a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Māšîaḥ), the Messiah, and is used as a title for Jesus in the New Testament. Followers of Jesus became known as Christians (as in Acts 11:26) because they believed Jesus to be the messiah (Christos) prophesied in the Hebrew Bible – therefore they often call him Jesus Christ, meaning Jesus the Christos. The word was originally a title, but later became part of the name "Jesus Christ", yet it is still also used as a title, in the reciprocal use Christ Jesus, meaning "The Messiah Jesus".

So what did Peter mean when He called Jesus the Messiah or Christ? Christians believe Jesus to be the Messiah that the Jews were expecting:

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.[Jn. 1:41-42]

The Christian concept of the Christ/Messiah as "the Word made Flesh" (see also Logos) is fundamentally different from the Jewish and Islamic. The majority of historical and mainline Christian theologies, as seen within the Nicene Creed, consider Jesus to be God or God the Son.

Christians believe that Daniel (Hebrew: דָּנִיֵּאל, or Daniyyel) was a prophet and gave an indication of when the Messiah, the prince mashiyach nagiyd, would come in the Prophecy of Seventy Weeks.[Dan. 9:25-26] Daniel's prophecies refer to him as a descendant of King David, a Son of Man, who will rebuild the nation of Israel, destroy the wicked, and ultimately judge the whole world.

To say you are a Christian means that you believe that Christ was the Messiah…the One and Only Son of God come in the Flesh, God incarnate. If we are truly a Christian we don’t take away or add to this statement. We put an emphatic “Amen” and a period at the end of the declaration.

Jesus knew that this true belief in Him would get His disciples killed if they dared to say it in public. This was exactly the kind of case the Jewish community was building against Jesus. There were spies trying to build a case against Jesus and they would stand before the court of the Sanhedrin accusing Jesus of believing He was equal with God as the promised Messiah. He warns them: “Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.”

The disciples had already traveled with Jesus for three years and had told thousands about Jesus, inviting others to hear Him teach and see the miracles He was performing. They did not advertise or really see Him as being “God in the flesh”, “Immanuel.” From this point on they realized that is exactly who they were following and it was a dangerous revelation.

Who Am I…?

I believe Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God
I believe that Jesus Christ and Father God are one in the same person.
I believe that we can only be saved by His perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Who am I…a true biblical Christian.


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